Today, I get to do something that I haven't done in a long time, and that's introduce you to a brand new work-in-progress! Before diving in, however, I do want to reiterate that A Dark Sky Opens is still very much a top priority of mine. The draft is officially over 150,000 words and is now over 600 pages in length, and I'd guess that it's probably 30,000 words away from being a finished draft. So, I repeat: I'm still working on this book almost daily.
While circling the drain on this draft of A Dark Sky Opens, though, I've started to redirect my focus to what's next for my writing career. Most of you are well aware of my ongoing struggle regarding self-publishing. The experience itself has been so fulfilling, and I really am in love with the process of having full control over my creative output — but the reality is that I have been quietly working on an Adult Grimdark Fantasy series since 2014 that's very compatible with the traditional publishing industry. I know that in almost every way, self-publishing is the obvious route to take — it offers full creative control, higher royalty rates, ownership of your intellectual property, and guarantees your book won't be pulled from shelves in six months if it doesn't sell out of its first print run.
If one thing is for sure, it's that I will always self-publish. And yet with every day that I work on this Adult Fantasy, I just can't shake the gut feeling that it would perform well in a traditional arena, and let's face it — traditional publishing has been a Bucket List item for me for almost as long as I can remember. So, in short, I have decided to explore traditionally publishing the work-in-progress that I'm about to announce! :)
I only mention this because my Patreon has been largely self-publishing focused, but as 2023 continues on, I predict providing more insight on my experiences with reacquainting myself with the traditional publishing industry. This includes trends, literary agencies, developments regarding the Big Five (especially as it pertains to union strikes and the way publishers treat their workers), and other such related content. The "Industry Insights" series on this blog will likely come back in full force. But I do feel compelled to reiterate that my ultimate goal is to achieve the experience of being a full-time hybrid author, reaping the benefits of both routes to publication. I'll always be an indie author first! :)
ANYWAY, LET'S GET TO THE POINT OF THIS POST. Without further ado, here's a very short breakdown of my next work-in-progress, which will be known to all of you as "NTHG" until I reveal the full title. It's an Adult Grimdark Fantasy, with sub-genres of portal fantasy and even time travel, with a shockingly romantic subplot. The story is diverse, inclusive, and focuses on a cast of characters who are morally gray at best and diabolical at worst (and they they have come to feel like family to me over the last nine years). The protagonist is very much based on the complicated relationship I have with my Native American heritage. And yes, I am very aware of the fact that I'm white as hell, but that doesn't change the reality that I have Native American blood and grew up with Native practices. In fact, I'm a legally recognized member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. The protagonist of this work-in-progress has provided me with a cathartic avenue of exploring the "iyeska" experience, and while it isn't emphasized as a core component of the plot itself, it is an underlying current that adds dimension to who the protagonist is and why she does what she does in life. She's thirty years old, which is also a refreshing perspective to write from. Without any family, she is left with only two friends: a fortune-teller who's really a con artist, and her enigmatic spiritual familiar, who refers to itself as "the thing" (and is quite the comedian). Last but not least, the narrative is a loose retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet, with themes of madness, revenge, betrayal, and love.
I could go on, but I think I'll save the rest for later, as I progress further into the story! :) For now, I want to note that it's been a while since I've drafted a story that tumbles out of my fingertips as effortlessly as NTHG has recently. It helps that I've allowed this concept time to steep in the back of my mind for nearly ten years, but there's something more to it that rings to the same pitch as when I finished WSBO. I'm ready to write this story. This story is ready for me to tell it. And let's just be real: writing in general has felt so effortless lately, so I'll be riding this high for as long as humanly possible. While the goal is to finish drafting ADSO by this summer, and finish NTHG's first draft by the end of 2023, I'm not holding myself to any stringent time-sensitive deadlines. Right now, I'm just enjoying writing again. It's been such a long time since I've felt this way, and I want to relish every second of it! :)
Oh! One more thing: I'm thinking of updating the Patrons Lounge to include a WIP tracker of sorts that visually represents my progress through each draft in real time. I've seen others do this, and it's so fun to watch, especially if you're a fan of the author and are anticipating a new release! Thoughts? I think I'll go for it!